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The south end of the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail is closing next week for repaving.

Cheshire Officials Seek to Aid Residents on Private Lake Road

By Jeff SnoonianiBerkshires Correspondent
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CHESHIRE, Mass. — The residents of Shadowland Cove Road along Cheshire Lake are inching toward a resolution to their disappearing beach fronts. 
The private road received a rough paving from the town about 20 years ago that included the installation of two catch basins along with a drainage system to alleviate a severe washout problem they had been experiencing. 
Over the years runoff from Lanesborough Road along with sediment from the catch basins has been accumulating on the waterfront and rendering several beach fronts useless for swimming or boat launching. When the drainage was installed the town received easements from property owners to maintain the basins and culvert but over time the work has not been performed.
Several solutions have been suggested from dredging the shore to regrading the roads, to simply cleaning out the catch basins more often.
The town is amenable to some degree to helping residents fix the problem but Selectwoman Michelle Francesconi wants to make sure their responsibility doesn't cross any legal lines.
"I ... want to clearly delineate the scope of the project. When you're talking about redoing some of the road structure, to me that is far surpassing where we need to be as a town on a private road. There's going to be a line that we're going to have to draw in terms of what is the town's responsibility moving forward," she said.
The town plans to solicit help from environmental consultants for the potential project. It's one Chairman Robert Ciskowski feels the town should help with to some degree.
"[The resident] said he hit a brick wall and it's been a lot of years, he came to us and we all looked at it and we all think perhaps it's time we try to do something. For him but also for the environment," he said.
Town Administrator Edmund St. John IV gave an update on the reconstruction of the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail. Some residents have been noticing activity on the popular bike path and he said he recently received a notice of work from the state Department of Transportation.
 The southern portion of the trail from the Berkshire Mall Connector Road in Lanesborough to Church Street in Cheshire will be closed as of Sunday, March 15. The first phase of the project is scheduled for completion in July, at which time the northern leg of the trail from Cheshire to the Visitors Center in Adams will be closed through the fall.
 The repaving of the 11.2 miles is pegged at $5 million. Funding is through the 2019 Transportation Improvement Program for the Berkshire Metropolitan Planning Organization. The trail has not been improved since the first leg opened in 2001.
Francesconi was concerned about the increased demand for parking during the first phase of the project as Church Street will be the most logical entry point for bikers and hikers.
"I would ask, given that this will be the southernmost entrance to the rail trail (during construction) we be proactive and anticipate that we will have an increase in the amount of cars in our downtown area for access to the trail. I'm sure there are going to be parking issues," she said.
St. John said he had already met with a representative from the state Department of Recreation and Conservation to address the issue. 
"Parking will likely be available in the parking lots at the school building. No parking at all along the entranceway to the town garage," he said. "There will not be on-street parking on either side of Railroad Street just because the street is way too narrow for that."
Highway Department Superintendent Robert Navin wants to keep his employees safer on the job by installing speed bumps in the Highway Department yard. Access to the town's transfer station goes through the yard and he said people often pass through at unsafe speeds. 
"We have to walk through that yard and it's pretty dangerous. People going in and out of that transfer station, they think it's a speedway. We have to do something to slow cars down. They fly through there," he said. "It's going to become more of an issue with the hikers when they start using the tent city. People might not like it but it'll slow them down a little bit and make it safer for everybody."
The board agreed to let the Highway Department install two removable speed bumps to curb speeding through the yard.
The next meeting of the Board of Selectmen will be Tuesday, March 17, at 6:30 p.m.
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